Australia’s Largest Companies Supporting Indigenous Prosperity

BCA 2014 Indigenous Engagement Survey Report

The results of the Business Council of Australia’s 2014 Indigenous engagement survey show our members are continuing to explore and find new ways of supporting Indigenous economic and social inclusion.

“We have reached a significant point when almost all of Australia’s largest companies see Indigenous prosperity as something they have a part in actively supporting,” BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

In 2014, 85 per cent of companies were involved in activities to support Indigenous economic and community development. In 2009, when the survey started, it was less than 30 per cent.

This year BCA members had around 15,000 Indigenous staff and spent $1.7 billion dollars on Indigenous businesses and joint ventures. $72 million was invested in Indigenous education.

We are seeing the green shoots of progress. There are more Indigenous businesses than ever before, and more Indigenous people employed in the private sector than there were 10 years ago.

“For the first time this year we saw investment in Indigenous education outrank employment as the top activity for companies. This reflects the fact that growth in employment relies heavily on improved education outcomes.

“Our member companies say the main barrier to increasing Indigenous employment is the lack of qualified candidates. This, and broader economic conditions, contributed to a slowdown in the growth of Indigenous employment, with 2,045 new Indigenous staff brought on this year, compared to 3,500 in 2013.

“Some companies said improved collaboration with government, and more effective and timely support for business-led employment programs would help them train and employ more Indigenous people,” Ms Westacott said.

Ms Westacott said the Business Council was keen to see a comprehensive response from government to some of the key employment aspects of Andrew Forrest’s Creating Parity report, in particular providing tailored contracts for proven employers.

Respondents to this year’s survey once again indicated that collaboration and partnership are critical to achieving positive outcomes. Businesses worked with over 50 Indigenous organisations and communities, and contributed 100,000 hours of pro bono expertise to build capability in these organisations and communities this year.

“The survey shows a growing relationship between business and Indigenous Australia. This is followed through in terms of business support for the move towards constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

“While it’s clear that there are still many areas of concern, business is not standing still or waiting for governments to solve every problem. We are optimistic about the prospects of a fairer, more inclusive future. And we are keen to contribute where we can in achieving that objective.”

BCA 2014 Indigenous Engagement Survey Report